Germany

Germany

Enercon pre-empts takeover threat with Aloys Wobben Foundation

GERMANY: Transferring 100% of the shares in Enercon, one of the world's largest turbine makers, into the Aloys Wobben Foundation may seem a drastic step for owner and founder Aloys Wobben to take to secure the future of the organisation. But the move - the completion of which was announced on 1 October - had become increasingly urgent.

The German company, firmly in family hands, was already immune from many of the pressures on a stock-exchange-listed firm. Yet unsettling rumours were being put about in financial circles, among competing companies and customers, that Enercon was at risk of being taken over. The announcement at the Hanover industry trade fair in April of the upcoming foundation took away the basis for these rumours and put a stop to them, an Enercon spokesman told Windpower Monthly.

It was very important for Wobben, who turned 60 this year, to ensure the Enercon group of companies maintains for the long term its independence and basic principles of sustainability, stable economic operation, minimum risk, continuous technical development and innovation. Wind-turbine technology remains the top priority, although this does not rule out work in other related fields, such as turbines for small hydro-power plants or electricity storage, the spokesman said.

Attractive target

On the surface, Enercon makes an attractive takeover target. It has maintained a stable performance in recent years compared to top-ten manufacturers such as Suzlon, Gamesa and Vestas, which have been plagued by cash-flow or board room problems and forced to restructure.

Enercon expects to install 3.55GW this year and 3.75GW in 2013 "with room for upward expansion," the company said in April, up from 2,86GW and 3.2GW in 2010 and 2011 respectively. Installations in Germany alone are expected to amount to 1,150-1,250MW in 2012.

In 2011, it boasted a high equity ratio - a measure of financial stability - of 56%. Its operating performance (revenue corrected for stocks of finished or semi-finished products and internally generated assets) is forecast to reach at least EUR3.8 billion in 2012, on a par with or even slightly increasing on 2011, and up from EUR3.65 billion in 2010.

Growth

Similarly, there are about 13,000 employees worldwide (directly and indirectly employed) and that number is set to grow. Some of the new staff will work in new factories and a new research centre is being built. New turbine-tower factories are under construction in Longueil-Sainte-Marie in Picardy, France, and in Zurndorf, Austria, both of which begin production this year. The research and development centre at Enercon's headquarters in Aurich is due to open in mid-2013. A new rotor-blade factory in Haren in Lower Saxony, Germany, has already started production and a further rotor-blade factory in Aurich will start production soon.

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